1 Corinthians, Chapter 14
© Copyright 2002 Darroll Evans, all rights reserved

1 Corinthians 14:1-3 
1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

The opening words of this chapter are unfortunate, because they belong at the end of chapter 13.

Because love is the greatest of the three (faith, Hope, and love)---we should ‘follow after love."

Then, chapter 14 begins.

Paul uses this chapter to set the Church in order.

We should desire all the spiritual gifts, but especially that we are able to prophesy.

Where does that place the theologians that say the prophecy has ended?

Men may speak in tongues, but its use is limited.

True New Testament prophecy is uplifting to the entire Church of Christ.

1 Corinthians 14:4-5
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

One of the uses of "tongues" is to edify yourself, the spiritual you.

It might be nice if all Christians spoke in tongues, but the implication in verse 15 is that all do not.

Paul desires all to be bold enough in the Spirit to prophesy.

Public "tongues" is valid for corporate use only if it is interpreted.

Private “tongues” is often not interpreted, but it is edifying to the individual spirit.

1 Corinthians 14:6-9
6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

The implication of this section is that tongues should be limited.

That also indicates that "tongues" may not be a human native language.

You may find this radical, but all teaching in the Church should be the result of divine revelation, biblical studies, Spirit inspired prophecy, or Church doctrine.

Many---too many Pastors are Sunday morning psychologists.

Paul often used athletic symbols as teaching tools.

Here he uses music.

I have noticed that music sounds fuller and richer when all the musicians are playing together under One Conductor.

Are you playing in God’s symphony or are you out alone playing an improvised solo?

In the old west moves, nothing was so horrible to my ears as a bugler playing charge out of tune and out of meter.

Many years ago, at the end of a practice, the conductor asked if there were any questions.

Being somewhat bold, I raised my hand.

The conductor pointed to me and I asked, "Is the orchestra going to tune up for the performance?"

You might think that musicians tune up every time.

You would be wrong about that bunch.

There is nothing wrong with preparation and practice.

What if your Church pianist/organist never practiced?

He/she might not have the job too long.

1 Corinthians 14:10-11
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

There are many voices in the world seeking to be heard.

The various public voices seem to have something to say, but not all are worthy of being heard.

V. 2--Technically, a barbarian was a person that did not speak Greek.

1 Corinthians 14:12-14
12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

Paul quickly returns to his theme of desiring spiritual gifts.

Paul gave the reason for that desire as being able to help the Church.

The reason is still valid.

The word "unknown" in verse 13 is added, but is there by inference.

There is a protocol in Church, but all too often the Holy Spirit does not fit into the protocol.

Is the Holy Spirit welcome in your Church, or have things been so structured for years that there is no place for Him?

Here we are told that when Paul prayed his understanding was “unfruitful”.

V. 14---do things that are fruitful.

How can we pray fruitfully if our prayers are unfruitful?

Paul tells us that when we pray with the Spirit we need an interpreter!

Obviously if we understood the words of our Spirit prayer we would not need an interpreter!

When Paul prayed with the Spirit, he spoke a language that he did not know!

Fruit does not grow on dead trees!

1 Corinthians 14:15-17
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Paul told us that he prayed both “with the Spirit” and “with understanding” (v 15)!

He admitted that when he prayed in the Spirit he needed interpretation. In essence Paul did not humanly understand what he was saying when he spoke in tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:16-17
16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

Most people do not understand their spiritual gifts.

When properly used, the gifts are for our benefit.

When the Holy Spirit takes up residence with us, He takes up residence!

The Spirit is with you when you take a shower in the morning, or brush your teeth.

He is with you when you go to sleep and when you arise the next day.

If the Holy Spirit dwells within you, there is no moment of any day that He is not there to guide and assist you in your life.

But, there is another part of the Spirit-led life that most do not understand.

God’s gifts to you are now your possessions.

That is why the Spirit is grieved when children of God abuse and misuse the gifts He has given them.

1 Corinthians 14: 32---And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

I will address this further later in the chapter, but for now---believe it!

We can offer praises to God both in the spirit and in the physical world.

Both are acceptable to Him.

How can we agree with spiritual things that we do not understand?

In a corporate setting it is best to pray with understanding so that other may join us in agreement.

1 Corinthians 14:18-20
18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Verse 18 is not referring to Paul being multi-linguistic. 

It is a reference to speaking “in an unknown tongue” (v. 19). 

Speaking in tongues is not a childish exercise. 

It is the exercise of a spiritual gift.

Paul had put away "childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11). And yet, he spoke in tongues more that all others.

That single statement takes tongues out of the "childish" realm and puts it into the realm of the Spirit-led.

While speaking in "tongues" has a place in the body of Christ, it must be explained that it is not useful in all circumstances.

Paul would rather speak five words in a locally known language then to speak ten-thousand in some unknown language—be it heavenly or earthly.

I Love verse 20! Paul says plainly, "grow up!" 

Far too often a Church is fed on emotion and not the Spirit. 

Although, when we understand what Christ has done for us we may indeed be emotional, if we are led only by emotion we will be misled!

Personal translation of verse 20:  “Brothers {in Christ} don’t be childish in your understanding. Contrary to that be innocent! And, in you understanding, become mature.”

1 Corinthians 14:21-25
21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Verse 21 is Paul’s paraphrased reference to Isaiah 28:11-12.

Personal paraphrasing of Scripture comes from Jewish tradition and is carried on in Synagogues today

In this section Paul may leave some behind.

Tongues and prophecy are signs to different groups at various times.

“Tongues” is primarily for unbelievers, while prophecy is primarily for believers.

By why?

Of the two, tongues and interpretation is more pointed and personal!

Prophecy is a non-starter for those who do not believe!  It requires insight and spiritual understanding!

1 Corinthians 14:26-30
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

Re-read verse 26.

The true 1st Century Church was interactive!

Far to many Churches today are one-dimensional.

Far too many Christians consider Church to be a "sitting-on-the-pew" time.

Unfortunately most of those that want it that way are Pastors. 

Verses 26-30 are 1st Century rules of worship.

How many Churches follow them today?

Does the word "zero" come to mind? 

1 Corinthians 14:31-32
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

Let me assure you that Paul did not write or say, "Ye all may prophesy."

The reason I am so certain is because he wrote it in Greek and he could not speak English.

"May" (Gr. dunasthe/dunasqe) indicates that Spirit-led Christians have the power, rights ability, and qualifications to prophesy.

The reason we may all participate is so all will learn, and be comforted by the words God gives us.

Preaching may be prophetic, but all preaching is far from prophetic.

Let’s discuss prophecy. "Jesus is coming soon" is not a prophetic statement.

"Jesus is coming back next Thursday" is.

So, how do you know that it is accurate?

Just wait and see!

When something passes into the realm of commonly held Church knowledge it ceases to be a prophetic utterance.

Again, verse 32 says explicitly that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

If you have a ministerial gift, it is yours to use.

In the case of prophecy, one need not study a brother/sister to find out what he/she needs to hear. 

In fact it is better if there is not prior knowledge.

The Prophet just opens up, and he/she is as surprised by the utterance as the recipient. 

If you wish to prophesy, read Jeremiah 23:15-40 before you open your mouth.

What a Prophet speaks may be his decision. 

What the Prophet says is totally God’s decision, those who speak in the name of the Lord when He as not given them anything to say are skating on thin ice.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

God is not the author of confusion or ignorance.

God wants us to be aware of His gifts and their proper use.

He gives us peace in their proper use.

Verses 34-35 reflect the activities in the Synagogues of that day, and some today.

Many Christians of Paul’s day were Jews or attendees of Synagogues.

They could be chaotic with various discussions going on at the same time.

Churches operated under different rules.

Open discussion during services was discouraged.

In some cases Jewish women were teachers to their husbands.

Personally, I would rather listen to one sentence spoken by a Spirit-filled woman, than to spend an entire year trying to learn from some non-Spirit filled male teacher (no matter how well educated he seems).

There are still many religious Neanderthals attending Church.

If it were not for Christian women, the Church would have died centuries ago.

God chose a woman to carry the first message that Christ had risen.

1 Corinthians 14:36-38
36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Make certain that your ego does not take precedence over the Spirit.

In other places God says that the Holy Spirit will lead you.

However, to the Corinthians He says, "If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." 

1 Corinthians 14:39-40
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

The Bible explicitly says do not forbid speaking in tongues!

Many Churches today in the biblical ignorance forbid speaking in tongues. 

They tell us the tongues are a known language.

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  You may know French, but what does the language of an angel sound like?

The Bible says to "covet" to prophesy.

Does your Church follow the rules?

Most folks read verse 40 and miss it!

Verse 40 says that all things should be done decently and in order.

The heart of verse 40 is "Let all things be done!"

Of course things should be done decently and in order, but they should be done! 

Chapter 15 
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